Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks men's soccer program has already reached new heights this year, but head coach Dave De Hart and his team aren't ready to close the books on the 2000 season just yet.
By Larry Isch, Director of Public Relations The Eagles will play in their first-ever American Southwest Conference postseason tournament this weekend when they meet Mary Hardin-Baylor on Friday in Abilene, Texas, in a rematch of a regular-season game that Ozarks won 4-2 just last week. A second victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor would pit the Eagles against the Hardin-Simmons-Austin College winner on Saturday. At stake this weekend is an automatic bid to the 46-team NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer National Championship. "It’s hard to believe we’re two matches away from playing in the NCAA Tournament," De Hart said. "We’re certainly capable of winning this tournament, but we’ve got to put together two good games back-to-back. It would be an absolutely amazing accomplishment if we could make it to the NCAA Tournament." De Hart, whose team set a school record for victories in a season with 13 heading into Monday’s regular-season finale against Texas-Permian Basin, said he is somewhat concerned about how his team will react to its first postseason appearance. "We need to go out and try to win instead of laying back and trying not to lose," De Hart said. "Our players have never been in this situation, so I don’t know how we’re going to react. But the one encouraging thing is that we’ve been playing well the past two weeks and we’ve got a little momentum." De Hart said it remains to be seen whether playing Mary Hardin-Baylor again in such a short time will be a positive or negative. "I don’t think we showed our hand in the first match, but I didn’t see any reason to go down there to lose" he said. "It could be a confidence-booster to beat them or it might make us a little too over-confident. I really don’t know which one it’ll be." The Eagles lead the ASC in shots averaged per game (24.56) and are third in points average per game (7.17) and goals (47). Junior forward Marcos Gonzalez is second in the league in shots per game average (4.72) and third in assists (10). Freshman Ricky Herrera is 10th in goals (9) and senior goalie Loscar Mejia is seventh in saves per game (4.63).